Create a Countdown Timer in Excel

Excel can be used to create a countdown timer to specific events. Excel will then automatically calculate how many days, months and years are remaining until the specified date.

For this example we will create a countdown until the London 2012 Olympics in Excel.

Find Out Many Days Until the Specified Date

To find out how many days there are until the start of the London 2012 Olympics, we will subtract today's date from the date of the start of the Olympics.

For this example, the start date of the Olympics is entered in cell A1 of the spreadsheet, and the function =TODAY() is entered in cell B1.

Enter the formula below into a cell on the spreadsheet, and copy it across to the 2 cells to the right.


Both cell references are absolute to fix the cells whilst copying.

Format the Cells to Show Years, Months and Days

Each cell now requires formatting to show the years, months and days. Select each cell in turn and format as below;

  1. Click Format > Cells in Excel 2003, or click the Dialogue Box Launcher button in the corner of the Number group on the Home tab in Excel 2007 and 2010
  2. Select Custom in the Category: list
  3. In the Type: box, enter y to show years, m to show the months and d to show days
  4. Click Ok

Countdown to the London 2012 Olympics in Excel

The final result should show a cell counting down the number of years, a cell counting down the number of months and another for the number of days remaining until the start of the London 2012 Olympics.

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